‘It was not I who gave you breath and life’

By Rose Brennan

STRATFORD—As the sun set on Main Street in Stratford, faithful from across the diocese gathered at St. James Parish for a Vigil Mass for Life on March 21—the eve of the Connecticut March for Life in Hartford.

Bishop Frank J. Caggiano served as the principal celebrant, and was joined by two Stratford pastors: Father Peter Adamski of St. James Parish and Father Birenda Soreng of St. Mark Parish.

According to the bishop, human life is sacred, only to be given and taken by God. And it reached its perfection in the personhood of Jesus Christ.

“We believe that human life—its correction, completeness, its fulfillment in God himself—the second person of the Blessed Trinity (took) on human life in all things but sin,” he said. “That reaffirms that every human life is called to eternal life if but it would recognize the sovereignty of God, who comes to us in Jesus Christ.”

In his homily, Bishop Caggiano invoked an encyclical written by St. John Paul II entitled Evangelium vitae, or “The Gospel of Life” in English. According to the bishop, the encyclical proclaims the beauty and dignity of life, which is an essential aspect of Catholic social teaching.

“It is that Gospel that brings us here tonight,” he said. “John Paul recalled what you and I believe in our hearts: that every single one of us—every human being from the moment of our conception—is made in the image and likeness of God.”

St. John Paul II posits a problem for this Gospel of Life, however. And that is the difficulty of proclaiming the sanctity of life in what he called a culture of death. But according to Bishop Caggiano, the faithful can stand up against that culture through prayer and action.

“We labor in a world that believes an unborn child is a choice, that disabled life is a burden, that elderly life simply costs too much money and imprisoned life is not worth redeeming,” Bishop Caggiano said. “The culture of death brings death. And if it does not change, it will lead to such a breakdown and chaos that only a radical conversion can save it.”

The bishop told the faithful that the greatest weapon they have against this culture of death is prayer. And he offered three intentions those gathered might be able to implement into their prayers: courage to be advocates for life in the public sphere, wisdom to teach the Gospel of Life, and the gift of conversion.

“There is no law … that will convert a human heart except the law of God,” Bishop Caggiano said. “We will end the culture of death when every heart is converted to the message of Jesus Christ and the Gospel he proclaims.”

Bishop Caggiano ended by encouraging those gathered, urging them not to be discouraged by this culture of death. Because if he knows anything about the message of the Catholic faith, it is that life will always triumph over death.

“You and I choose life: unborn life, elderly life, sick life, disabled life, imprisoned life, all life of every race, language, culture, continent and way of life,” he said. “All of our brothers and sisters have a dignity that no one has the right to take away.”